Page 1

May, 2022 / Volume 26, Issue 4











• Editorial •


Anda Sebesi

6 First quarter of 2022

• Editor-in-Chief •

sees decline in M&A dealmaking, but strong real estate activity


Romania is a safe investment destination


ussia and Ukraine together represent a relatively small part

8 Orange’s new mission: to create a one-stop shop experience


of the world economy, but they account for a large share of global energy exports. The reliance of many European

countries on Russia’s oil and gas has prompted a political debate on

14 Ukraine conflict puts a

how to quickly and permanently lower this dependency.

damper on hopes of economic recovery

Due to its proximity to the conflict zone and its trade links with both Russia and Ukraine, the Central and Eastern Europe region has been the focus of a lot of concern since the conflict started— and Romania was facing a pressing need for adjustments in its macroeconomic imbalances even prior to that moment. The coun-


try has been under the EU’s excessive budget deficit procedure

24 Agista looking to boost

since early 2020, though it has been suspended in the meantime on

presence of Romanian entrepreneurs on stock exchange

account of the pandemic. With these issues in mind, we’re dedicating this month’s main story to the Ukraine conflict and its impact on Romania and the wider region. To maintain economic stability through this turbulent period, the local government and the business community must present a clear message that Romania is not only a safe place to invest, but also one that offers many opportunities in spite of the present challenges. Romania’s vulnerabilities could be turned into opportunities if the agriculture and energy sectors were treated as

26 Startups looking to shape local post-pandemic office market

CITY 35 Gopo Awards 2022:

not necessarily be among the first relocation options for Ukrainian

Act of courage reveals years of behind-thescenes abuse

businesses. However, with sustained, coherent support and a well-

36 Romanian Design

strategic. Right now, unlike Poland and Hungary, our country may

rounded strategy that is quickly designed and implemented by the authorities (including local ones), the country’s attractiveness and its chances to become a relevant investment destination may increase.

Week celebrates 10-year anniversary with special edition

38 Cultural calendar

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Anda Sebesi JOURNALISTS: Aurel Constantin, Mihai Cristea, Deniza Cristian, Romanita Oprea, Oana Vasiliu CONTRIBUTORS: Ovidiu Posirca, Claudiu Vrinceanu COPY EDITOR: Anca Alexe PHOTO EDITOR: Mihai Constantineanu PHOTOS: Dreamstime ART DIRECTOR: Raluca Dumitru PUBLISHER: Bloc-Notes Media Network ADDRESS: 82-98 Calea Grivitei, 1st floor, Hotspot Workhub, District 1, Bucharest, Romania SALES MANAGERS: Radu Fireteanu, Alexandra Rosca MARKETING & SALES MANAGER: Luiza Luca PRODUCTION: Dan Mitroi DISTRI­­BUTION: Eugen Musat EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: George Moise GENERAL MANAGER: Catalin Alistari USA MANAGER: Oana Molodoi FOUNDING EDITOR: Bill Avery EMAILS:,, SUBSCRIPTIONS on Manpres Distribution Business Review is a member of Fwei

Publicație auditată pe perioada Apr 2015 - Mar 2016

ISSN NO. 1453-729X Business Review | May 2022


WHO’S NEWS BR welcomes information for Who’s News. Submissions may be edited fo­­­r length and clarity. Get in touch at

Kané Group gets RON 1.8 million investment from Autonom Ventures By Deniza Cristian manian Cuisine, M60 Specialty Coffee, Mamizza – Mother of Pizza, Mercato Kultur, and the Localnicii platform are just some of the projects that have been part of Kané Group’s first stage of development. Since its

Boualem Saidi is the new leader in charge of Bayer Romania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Moldova, having taken over from his predecessor Sercin Giray. Boualem joined the Country Group in July 2020, leading the Crop Science Division for Bayer and coordinating business operations for the Country Group. He is an agronomist by training and has been with Bayer for 27 years, mostly in commercial and general management roles, at the country, regional, and global levels.

Marko Andric has been appointed Sales Director at Coca-Cola HBC Romania, the leader of the local beverage industry. In his new role, he becomes a member of the company’s Senior Management team, and will coordinate a sales team of approximately 700 people, who are responsible for the relationship with the company’s 100,000 customers. Prior to joining the Romanian team, from 2019 until the end of March 2022, Marko was the Sales Manager of Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria.

inception, the group has specialised in creating hospitality ecosystems bringing together multiple local entrepreneurs. The business model developed by Kané Group involves the creation of original concepts in locations which are fitted out by space owners who thus become indirect co-investors.

Since its inception, the group has specialised in creating hospitality ecosystems

connection between the very talented people in hospital-

Autonom Ventures, founded

Romania). Founded by Razvan

ity and the space owners who

by Dan and Marius Stefan, has

Crisan and David Maguet in 2014

understand that a good restau-

granted a new round of invest-

and developed together with

rant or café are in fact strong

ment to Kané Group, joining

Ciprian Morar since 2016, the

anchors, which in the post-

existing investors Ciprian

Kané Group has created a series

pandemic period can represent

Morar (founder of Lateral Inc.),

of hospitality brands that have

important reasons for people

Andrei Pitis (founder of Simple

quickly grown to be appreciated

to go to the office or choose a

Capital), and Mihaela Mitroi

both locally and internationally.

place to live,” says Kané Group

(one of the top tax experts in

Concepts such as Kané – New Ro-

co-founder Razvan Crisan.

HiSky is the newest airline to enter the Romanian market By Deniza Cristian Moldovan airline HiSky has

Tel Aviv, Israel. Furthermore,

started to operate flights from

during the summer, the com-

its new hub, the Henri Coanda

pany will also operate several

Airport in Bucharest.

charter flights to exotic destina-

Passengers from Romania’s capital city will be able to travel

page 5

“Our approach is to create a

to Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca, as

tions, in partnership with major Romanian tour operators. With the opening of its

well as to one of the most highly

Bucharest hub, HiSky launches

sought-after tourist destinations,

a new concept around service

With the opening of its Bucharest hub, HiSky launches a new concept around service and price Business Review | May 2022


65% of business services firms want teams to work in the office 2-3 days a week By Aurel Constantin The Association of Business

Olivier Van Houtte is the new CEO of Cargus. With 20 years of experience in leadership positions in international companies in Europe and the US, Van Houtte has been involved in major restructuring, integration, and transformation projects. He takes over the role of CEO from Jarosław Śliwa, who led Cargus for three and a half years.

Service Leaders in Romania (ABSL) conducted a study in February-April on the postpandemic working methods adopted by companies in the industry, for the 2022-2023 period. 49 percent of companies surveyed stated that the biggest post-pandemic challenges were related to employee engagement and motivation, as well as finding ways to get them to return to the office. According to the ABSL study, the number of employ-

Ciprian Dan, the President of the ABSL

ees who only want to work from the office is below 15 per-

week (with 27 percent of compa-

period of readjustment, during

cent across about 90 percent

nies requiring it). The top three

which any employee can come

of companies in the industry.

categories of employees who

to the office when they want to

60 percent of participating

prefer working from home are

and without a mandatory num-

companies say that between

those who have young children

ber of days. In determining the

50 and 100 percent of their em-

or who are caring for other family

new working mode, companies

ployees prefer the hybrid mode

members, those who spend too

will take into account the type

of working. Of them, most are

much time in traffic or commut-

of activity being performed,

willing work from the office for

ing, as well as IT and software

experience, performance, team

two days per week (37 percent

development workers.

size, project type, and the

“About 60 percent of com-

preferences of employees and

for employees working in a hy-

panies in the industry plan to

customers,” says Ciprian Dan,

brid format) or three days per

return to the office through a

the President of the ABSL.

of companies will require this

Victor Cosconel Head of Industrial & Business Development at Colliers, is taking over the management of Office 360°, replacing Sebastian Dragomir, who had been responsible for developing new growth strategies for the department for the last 5 years. With more than 20 years of experience in sales, business development, and general management, Cosconel will coordinate Colliers’ development plans for industrial and office spaces.

and price. The company’s proposal for the Romanian market is called “SMART COST”—a travel concept that maintains low-cost pricing principles while taking into account passengers’ behaviours and needs in establishing the flight schedule and the range of available extra services. One of the company’s main development strategies is servicing business traffic by creating highly accessible air connections between the capital city and the country’s largest cities.

Stamatis Sapkas is the new Group Chief Financial Officer at Globalworth. Stamatis succeeds Andreas Papadopoulos, who will step down as CFO, following the announcement that he would leave the Company after eight years. Stamatis Sapkas has around 20 years of experience in real estate advisory and investment. He joined Globalworth in 2013. Business Review | May 2022


First quarter of 2022 sees decline in M&A dealmaking, but strong real estate activity The Romanian mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market recorded 48 transactions in the first three months of 2022, a 17 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2021. Despite the higher volume of dealmaking, the estimated value of local M&A activity was lower on a year-on-year basis, at USD 1.8 billion in Q1 2022 vs USD 2.1 billion in Q1 2021, according to EY Romania calculations. The level of activity reflects the global slowdown in M&A after a record year in 2021. By Aurel Constantin followed by Poland, Austria, Hungary, and Gibraltar (2 deals each). The most active sectors by inbound deal volume were technology and real estate (7 deals each), followed by diversified industrial products (5 deals), telecommunications, media & entertainment (3 deals), power & utilities, and healthcare (2 deals each).

REAL ESTATE MAINTAINS STRONG PACE The good news is that based on the activity levels of Q1, real estate investment volumes in Romania could finally exceed EUR 1 billion in 2022, according to the 2021 annual report released by Colliers. Just a few big-ticket office deals in quite advanced stages—which Colliers consultants predict with a fairly high Strategic investors continue to be the dominant players on Romania’s M&A market


degree of certainty will close in 2022¬—could generate deals totalling over EUR 600 million. In line with 2020, the Romanian invest-

he largest transaction of the first

for Strategies & Transactions at EY Roma-

ment market recorded transactions of almost

quarter was the acquisition of auto-

nia. Strategic investors continue to be the

EUR 900 million last year, which represents

maker Ford Romania by Ford Otosan

dominant players on Romania’s M&A market,

over 8 percent of the total EUR 11.7 billion in-

Netherlands for USD 785 million, followed by

accounting for 92 percent of closed transac-

vestment volume recorded by the six largest

the acquisition of wind farm Beta Wind by

tions. Foreign players increased their activity

countries in Eastern Europe.

Energias de Portugal, through its subsidiary

in the Romanian market, with 28 transactions

EDP Renovaveis, for USD 136 million. “The

representing a 56 percent increase compared

health challenges, it is extremely difficult to

Romanian M&A market showed continued

to Q1 2021, whereas domestic transactions

make predictions regarding global economic

resilience in the first three months of 2022.

registered a 10 percent decline (18 transac-

developments. The war in Ukraine and the

Despite the challenging geopolitical and

tions) when compared to the same period.

related sanctions, which came on top of

macroeconomic contexts, M&A activity

In terms of origins, the most active investors

the pandemic and ESG-related drivers and

remains significant and close to record-high

were from the Netherlands (5 deals), the

disruptions, are going to impact property

levels,” said Iulia Bratu, Associate Partner

United States, and Belgium (3 deals each),

markets in terms of supply, demand, and

In the current context of geopolitical and Business Review | May 2022 2016


affordability. As a result, it is hard to say how


large surface leased by a single blue-chip ten-

the Romanian economy—and especially the

2021 brought improvements in the retail

ant. Other major office deals included the sale

real estate sector¬¬—might be affected in

segment as well, attracting deals of about

of River Development’s The Light to Austrian

the future. The inflationary backdrop and

EUR 170 million, a sharp increase from 2020,

group Uniqa for EUR 56 million, marking their

aggressive monetary policy tightening by the

though this is barely half the yearly volume

first major local purchase in over a decade, as

Federal Reserve could impact local activity as

seen between 2013 and 2018, when there

well as BCR’s former HQ heading to Immofi-

well, delaying some of the positive changes

were several large transactions involving

nanz for EUR 36 million.

many had expected.

commercial properties. Investors’ interest in

The industrial and logistics sector also had

Overall, 2021 was a decent year for the

retail products has been growing steadily over

several major deals from active developers,

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region in

the last half year, focusing on various product

as well as from two new entries on the local

terms of investment market activity, with

categories such as retail parks or shopping ar-

scene. CTP Invest, the biggest developer on

the overall volume (based on preliminary

cades, shopping centres in secondary/tertiary

the local industrial market, added nearly

numbers) up by about 6 percent compared

cities in need of repositioning or boxes leased

340,000 square metres of new warehouse

to 2020, at EUR 11.7 billion, but still some 20

to supermarkets or DIY stores.

spaces to their portfolio via four different

percent behind 2019 levels, Colliers writes in

In terms of investment sizes, the office

its latest “2021/2022 CEE Investment Scene”

sector again saw the largest transaction of

million in total. Around 80 percent of the


2021, with the purchase of Atenor’s Hermes

sum came from two portfolios with various

as the result of a low offer on hand, which

Business Campus for around EUR 150 million

properties scattered throughout the country:

failed to underscore how deep the actual

by Hungarian fund Adventum. The second

Olympian Parks (owned by Greek developer

demand was. This means that 2021’s result

biggest office deal was the sale of Skanska’s

Helios Phoenix) and a part of the Zacaria

was rather the mere consequence of more

Campus 6.2 and 6.3 to Austrian fund S IMMO

portfolio. The third largest industrial deal

properties seeking a different owner, as buy-

for EUR 97 million, marking the latter’s first

in terms of size marked the first direct local

ers were likely to dig into their pockets. In

major purchase on the local market, after

purchase by Fortress REIT, NEPI Rockcastle’s

fact, a Colliers survey conducted late in 2021

having acted primarily as a developer previ-

biggest shareholder, which acquired Element

showed that industrial assets had become

ously. This deal also set a provisional low

Industrial’s ELI Park 1 near Bucharest for EUR

the most favoured asset class in Europe.

for prime office yields, i.e., 6.75 percent, but

30 million.

Meanwhile, offices remained the most active

based on advanced deals on the market, Col-

asset class, attracting deals worth around 44

liers consultants believe that yields continued

CEE region, office prime yields saw a steady

percent of the total, though very much below

to move south in the second part of the year.

descent in 2021 in Romania, falling from 7 to

purchases during 2021 for around EUR 170

Bucharest has been seeing some of the highest yields in the region for the industrial and logistics facilities (7.5 percent), compared to at most 4 percent in Prague, 4.1 percent in Warsaw or 5.7 percent in Budapest and Bratislava. In fact, Romania’s industrial assets in 2021 recorded their best results since 2015, attracting transactions totalling around EUR 260 million, which represented over 29 percent of the total volume. This figure is also more than two and a half times higher than the yearly average seen for deals involving I&L (Industrial and Logistics) assets between 2010 and 2020. “We continue to view the rather depressed volume of traded I&L assets in previous years

2020’s share of 89 percent. Otherwise, after

Another deal worth mentioning is the sale

Following trends similar to those in the

6.5 percent. A similar situation may be record-

having underperformed CEE peers in past

of Atenor’s Dacia One office project to the

ed for prime I&L yields, where Colliers con-

years, Romania saw its 2021 yields for prime

owners of Romanian DIY chain Dedeman for

sultants note that figures are likely headed

offices performing a bit better than some

EUR 50 million, a deal closed late in 2021 at

to around 7.5 percent towards the end of the

of its neighbours’, though I&L assets saw a

a yield well below the prime level for offices,

year. As for prime retail assets, they believe a

much steeper drop in the region,” says Robert

largely influenced by the longer-than average

prime retail shopping centre would currently

Miklo, Director of Investment Services at

lease, though it ticked all other boxes, being

trade at around 6.75 percent, a bit higher than


a new building in a very good location, with a

the trough seen before the pandemic.

8 COVER STORY Business Review | May 2022 Business Review | May 2022


ORANGE’S NEW MISSION: TO CREATE A ONE-STOP SHOP EXPERIENCE The journey of Orange România & Orange Romania Communications that resulted in a unique M&A process on the local telecommunication market. 'An adventure,' as described by Liudmila Climoc, the CEO of Orange România, who took the time to walk us through the entire process of rebranding a service provider with focus on customer experience.

What steps did you take within the first six months after completing the transaction? Our journey with fixed services operator Orange Romania Communications started on September 30, 2021, and all the steps we have taken together have made this a complex M&A process and a unique one on the local telecommunications market. In our case, the competitor, from which Orange

By Aurel Constantin

Romania Communications (n.r. former Telekom Romania Communications) has detached, is still on the market. This brought important legal & compliance requirements that made this journey extremely challenging, but also rewarding, considering all the smart & innovative solutions we have found. We reached the 6-month milestone at the end of March 2022, after a period that brought us closer to our objective — becoming the preferred choice for convergent services in Romania. We started this journey with a focus on customers and teams. We wanted to be transparent and keep our clients informed, and that's why we launched the website from day one, to provide answers to the most important questions related to the impact of the transaction among our customers. Business Review | May 2022


At the same time, we focused on bringing employees together, so companies. The transition of fixed services operator Orange Roma-

You carried out a very large rebranding process in a very short amount of time. What were the biggest challenges in this process?

nia Communications to the Orange brand was a major project that

On September 30, we knew that one of the most important mile-

involved transversally all the functions from the two companies.

stones we’d reach together would come after the first 6 months,

they could get to know each other while operating as two separate

Looking back, there were many other operations that required

when we’d have to complete the rebranding process. Rebranding

a considerable effort, such as transitioning all internal addresses to

doesn’t just mean changing the logo or the colours, but a series

the Orange domain, moving the Orange Romania Communications

of actions that are all linked to the customer journey and to how

registered office to the address of a local historic monument — The

customers interact with our company. In this context, all Orange

Telephone Palace —or renaming Telekom Romania Communications

Romania Communications assets had to be readjusted beyond their

to Orange Romania Communications.

look & feel in order to come as close as possible to the Orange DNA.

Our project team had to

The rebranding meant a

manage a long list of touch-

great involvement at an orga-

points and very busy agendas

nizational level, and now we

with hundreds of tasks, but I

see it as a remarkable achieve-

want to highlight three very

ment. Here are some key fig-

complex projects:

ures, to give you an idea: over

The first is the unification

500 web pages redesigned,

of contact channels allowing

three mobile applications

Orange Romania Communica-

completely reshaped, and 55

tions customers to have access

Orange Romania Communica-

to all main contact points as

tions stores rebranded.

Orange customers: call center,

Internally, we developed

shops, the website,

dedicated training sessions for

and the social media pages all

our new Orange Romania Com-

under the Orange brand. It was

munications colleagues, be-

a major operational effort to

cause the Orange brand is part

provide a similar experience

of our commercial approach,

to Orange Romania Communi-

but it influences our culture as

cations and Orange România

well. A significant number of

customers, but we made it

employees attended the brand

happen. The second major

induction courses, revealing

process, which I will detail in

great interest in understand-

a moment, was the transfer

ing the values of the Orange

of Orange Romania Commu-

brand. It was an immense ef-

nications customers from the

fort for which I’m grateful.

Telekom Romania mobile network to the Orange România mobile network. We are talking about more than 800,000 customers with mobile services associated with fixed-mobile contracts, for whom we sought an innovative telecommunications solution. The third and ‘final touch’ was the launch of the first joint offer

How have you approached the technical adjustments to the service infrastructure so that customers wouldn’t experience interruptions or changes in their use? The acquisition of fixed services operator Orange Romania Commu-

from Orange and Orange Romania Communications, which brings

nications brought several technical challenges. All the steps men-

speeds of 1.8 Gpbs for the first time in Romania, along with con-

tioned above required us to rethink our network and IT solutions.

nectivity in the #1 mobile network, Orange, as well as TV services

One of the biggest challenges, which brought a remarkable innova-

with access to Orange Sport channels. In the coming months, we

tion in telecommunications into the limelight, was the transfer of

will focus on operational excellence and the further alignment of

connectivity for mobile customers from Telekom Romania Mobile

processes, so that Orange Romania Communications customers can

to the Orange mobile network.

receive superior support & network experience. After welcoming

Among the customers who are now part of the Orange group

Orange Romania Communications as a subsidiary of Orange Româ-

there is a number of clients whose mobile services are associated

nia, our investment in telecommunications networks will exceed

with fixed-mobile contracts with Orange Romania Communica-

200 million euros annually, consolidating the investment of up to 4

tions. On September 30, mobile services for these customers were

billion euros that Orange has made in its 25 years of presence on the

provided through an MVNO contract with Telekom Romania Mobile

local market.

—the MVNO being, in short, a ‘network rental’ contract. Follow- Business Review | May 2022


ing the acquisition, we wanted these customers to have access to

preferred choice for convergent services, and the acquisition of

the Orange mobile network. But how do you transfer such a large

the majority stake in Orange Romania Communications shares is a

number of customers from one mobile network to another, in the

major step in this direction.

middle of a pandemic, without changing their physical SIM cards so as to avoid a major inflow of customers in stores? The answer came from our technical teams, who created an automated flow that

How has the local market changed as a result of the takeovers of recent years?

allowed Orange Romania Communications SIMs to be registered in

Romania is one of the most competitive markets in the EU, and local

the Orange network without user intervention, maintaining the se-

customers benefit from the best value for money. The Romanian

curity standards in telecommunications and the services associated

market has reached its value potential for the most part, so opera-

with each SIM card.

tors are now moving towards convergence, innovation, digital services, and differentiated, high-quality content. 41 percent of Ro-

How did the Orange and Telekom teams react to the rebranding process?

manian households are already convergent, meaning they are using

Through this acquisition, we brought together complementary ser-

Orange is present in 1 out of 2 households in Romania. There are

a mobile service and a fixed service from the same provider, while

vices, telecommunications infra-

several advantages of this growing

structures, and, most importantly,

local convergence trend. Romania

teams. Some of the best telecom-

joins a select club of countries

munications experts are today un-

such as Spain or France, with 3 big

der the same roof, but they have

players providing fixed-mobile

different ways of working, cul-

convergent offers. In terms of net-

tures, and histories. Aligning all

work development, convergence

these requires thorough analysis,

can maximise synergies between

patience, and the identification of

networks, creating better infra-

the best and most effective ways

structure & paving the way to fu-

of working together. We have

ture networks with 5G, Open RAN

built our joint vision and strategic

etc. This increases the country’s

objectives with the contribution

attractiveness for foreign invest-

of both teams. We found brand

ment and economic development

induction webinars to be greatly

through digital transformation.

helpful; they were organized by colleagues from the Learning & Development team and attended by thousands of people. making the final arrangements in a new office building that will host

Orange Business Services is a key player on the data center services market in Romania. How has it evolved in recent years and what does the future of this division look like?

teams from both companies. It was a demanding, but also exciting

Demand for IT&C services increased considerably in 2021 com-

6-month period!

pared to the previous year, with Orange Business Services being a

Meanwhile, we’ve been preparing our new home. We are now

growth engine for Orange România. Togheter with Orange Romania

The global telecommunications industry is dominated by consolidation. Why is this happening and what is behind the trend?

Communications team and ecosystem of partnerships and solu-

The consolidation trend can be observed across several industries,

has become a key player on the local data center market, with 5 data

not just telecommunications, because customers want a one-stop

centers in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, and Brașov, hosting services,

shop experience, with more integrated services from a single

virtualization, and strong cyber security skills.

tions, Orange Business Services is today one of the most powerful suppliers and integrators of technology in Romania. In addition, it

operator. For example, Orange offers fixed-mobile-TV packages, IT&C solutions for companies and public administrations, as well

What are the plans for Orange this year?

as financial services. In every European country where the Orange

We will continue expanding the footprint of our convergent offer

Group operates, the last decade has brought a development of

by aligning and developing the strengths of our mobile and fixed

fixed-mobile convergence, determined by the need for simplifica-

networks. Our main objective is to create a one-stop shop experi-

tion and high-quality services. Convergence is the cornerstone

ence that provides full digital services and top-quality content.

of Orange Group’s strategy today, and our European leadership is

Having reached many of the planned milestones in the six months

confirmed by 11.5 million convergent customers. The steps we have

that followed the transaction, we are now even more focused on

made in Romania and the process that’s already well underway in

fostering good collaboration between our teams for the benefit of

Belgium to acquire Voo are strengthening the Group’s approach.

our customers. By operating at the highest standards, we know that

In Romania, Orange has a clear strategy of becoming customers’

we can offer our customers a great experience in the best network. Business Review | May 2022


From GSM to 5G – a quarter-century journey that changed the way we use technology Orange România’s 20-year brand journey blends in perfectly with that of the development of our country’s telecommunications industry. In fact, the telecom operator’s story began 25 years ago, when Dialog entered the market. We take a look at how Orange România became a provider of complete digital services, with thousands of employees, and came to provide at least one telecom service to half of Romanian households.


By Aurel Constantin

he launch in 1997 of the

launch, over 25,000 Orange cus-

first GSM mobile services

tomers opted for 3G services. One

coincided with the launch

year later, the 3G+ network was

of the Dialog brand, operated by Mobil Rom. At the same time, the

launched in 10 Romanian cities. The smartphone era really

operator marked another first by

started when Steve Jobs made

bringing Romania’s very first pre-

history by presenting the iPhone to

paid service, ALO. Two years later,

the world, in January 2007. Orange

in 1999, Dialog introduced the

was the first operator to introduce

SMS feature and the Dialog Inedit

the iPhone on the local market,

subscription, which at the time

breaking the ice with the famous

was the most affordable monthly

3G iPhone in 2008, and constantly

payment option in the country.

introducing the newest models as

That year represented a turning point for the telecom market, when

they were launched. Just a decade later, the smartphone had almost

all providers realised that they had to constantly innovate and bring

entirely replaced what we now call “dumb phones,” and today we

more value to their users in the race to becoming the #1 network.

just can’t see ourselves without one.

Upgrading GSM (Global System for Mobile) meant deploying the

But the devices area was not the only segment in which Orange

GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technology, the equivalent of

surprised its customers. It launched the Orange Young programme

2G. The new technology came to be available in Romania in 2001,

in 2007, with benefits and special offers for people aged between

just a year before Dialog and ALO became Orange. In 2002, the Or-

14 and 26, and one year later, Orange reached 10 million custom-

ange brand was officially launched in our country under the slogan

ers in Romania. Moving forward and acting on the desire to invest

“The future is bright, the future is Orange.”

in projects for community development and digital education, the

Innovation never stopped, especially in the area of mobile communications. In 2004, Orange launched the EDGE (Enhanced Data

company launched the Orange Foundation in 2012. In 2014, when Orange already had TV services in its portfolio, we

Rates for GSM Evolution) connectivity, another step towards 3G

saw the launch of 4G technology, which became available in over

connectivity and mobile data, which also coincided with a first for

1,000 localities in the country within a year. The fourth generation of

the Orange Group, as Romania was the first market where the Group

broadband cellular network technology meant improved mobile web

introduced this technology, and it proved extremely successful.

access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV,

In their move towards a modern infrastructure in telecommuni-

video conferencing, and even 3D television. It was the technology

cations, an industry that was developing at a “fast and furious” pace,

that continues to improves the life of rural communities by bringing

mobile operators began creating additional services to attract new

them the advantages of broadband communications, a very impor-

customers or retaining existing ones. That was the background for

tant service, especially in challenging times like the COVID-19 pan-

the launch of the Orange Film programme in 2005, and since then,

demic. In 2019, only five years later, Orange launched 5G technology,

every Wednesday, Orange customers have been able to enjoy a spe-

and Romania was again the first country in the group to benefit from

cial offer at cinema partners across the country: two movie tickets

this service. 5G is steadily setting new connectivity standards not

for the price of one.

only for mobile users, but for B2B communications services as well.

The development of mobile data started in 2006, when 3G tech-

Today, Orange is the #1 network in Romania, and it is accelerating

nology became available in Romania. Orange was the first operator

its strategy for convergent services, aiming to be the top choice for

to offer access to 3G connectivity and in the first three days after the

integrated fixed-mobile services on the local market. Business Review | May 2022


Ukraine conflict puts a damper on hopes of economic recovery Just as the global economy started to move steadily towards recovery from the covid-19 pandemic, there was another major systemic shock. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marked a tectonic shift in geopolitical risk levels. Beyond triggering a horrific humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe, the economic effects of the conflict and the associated sanctions will be felt across the world, slowing down growth while adding to the pre-existing inflationary pressures. By Anda Sebesi Business Review | May 2022



ven though Russia and Ukraine together represent a rela-

terms of improving domestic economic outlook. “While the situa-

tively small part of the world economy, they account for a

tion remains difficult, Romania has several advantages. First and

large share of global energy exports. The reliance of many

foremost, we are a NATO member, which offers a security guaran-

European countries on Russia’s oil and gas has prompted a political

tee. Moreover, the evolution of the military situation since the start

debate on how to quickly and permanently

of the invasion has so far considerably reduced

lower this dependency. Both countries are also

initial concerns of the conflict potentially

global major exporters of metals, intermedi-

spreading to areas beyond Ukraine. Further-

ate manufacturing inputs, food staples, and

more, Romania’s EU membership provides an

agricultural commodities.

indication of stability to investors, as well as

Due to its proximity to the conflict zone and

offering all the benefits of the Single Market,”

its trade links with both Russia and Ukraine,

says Ramona Jurubita, Country Managing

the Central and Eastern Europe region has

Partner at KPMG in Romania.

been the focus of a lot of concern since the

She adds that the government and the

conflict started. Romania was facing a pressing

business community need to present a clear

need for adjustments in its macroeconomic

message that Romania is not only a safe place

imbalances even prior to that moment. The

to invest, but it also offers many opportunities

country has been under the EU’s excessive

in spite of the current challenges. At the same

budget deficit procedure since early 2020¬—al-

time, the authorities can further help growth

though the pandemic led to its suspension in the meantime. According to the Global Economic Outlook report published by KPMG in April 2022, efforts to bring down Romania’s relatively large

with investor-friendly policies, such as support for key sectors like health and education as well as making full use of the available EU funding, especially to develop the country’s infrastructure.”

structural budget deficit in the years to come could have a knockon effect on its economic growth. In addition, the constant deepening of the current account


deficit—which stood at -7.1 percent of GDP

Romania’s vulnerabilities could be turned into

in 2021, the second largest in the EU—would

opportunities if the agriculture and energy

require a gradual and rather immediate correc-

sectors were treated as strategic, Timofti

tion, in order to avoid further increases in the

believes. She points out that, unlike Poland

country’s financing costs.

and Hungary, Romania may not necessarily

The same source says that higher im-

among the first relocation options for Ukrai-

ported inflation would likely keep pushing up

nian businesses. However, with sustained,

nominal interest rates, eroding consumers’

coherent support and a well-rounded strategy

purchasing power and hampering short-term

that is quickly designed and implemented by

economic growth prospects. However, with

authorities (including local ones), the country’s

the right policies in place, which should

attractiveness and its chances to become a rel-

be aimed at encouraging investments and stimulating long term

evant destination may increase. “Investment-related facilities rang-

growth, Romania could weather this crisis.

ing from fiscal and state aid schemes to the elimination of undue

While the has adopted EU several packages of economic and individual sanctions against Russia, the inflationary pressure intensified by the higher

bureaucratic barriers are really helpful mechanisms in the context of a relocation decision,” Timofti notes. According to Razvan Vlad, Partner in the

commodity prices and a deep recession of

NNDKP Corporate/M&A practice, despite the

certain economic sectors such as automotive,

conflict being close to its borders, Romania

transport, chemicals, political risk and uncer-

continues to follow the business guidelines

tainty could make companies more reluctant to

that were set prior to the beginning of the war,

invest during this period. “The large-scale emi-

and investments in key sectors of the economy

gration from Ukraine (figures discussed by the

(such as infrastructure, healthcare, etc.) have

specialists indicate over 5 million refugees to

continued as scheduled. “The legislative

date, with an additional 6.5 million displaced

framework tends to remain quite stable and,

inside Ukrainian borders) is another socio-eco-

with the exception of a couple of legislative

nomic factor with a significant impact,” says

acts aimed at addressing issues generated by

Alina Timofti, Partner and Co-Head of NNDKP

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, investors

Tax Advisory Services. The complete absorption of funds available

may rely on a relatively safe business environment and on laws

via the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Fund would go a long way in

which are adapted to EU regulations and requirements,” he says. Business Review | May 2022



based on Ukrainian laws and regulations will find it more difficult

Romania is facing a severe labour shortage in multiple important

to do so,” says Perry Zizzi, President of the Romanian Diversity

sectors. This trend has been accelerated by the

Chamber of Commerce (RDCC) and Managing

pandemic, which fuelled the competition for

Partner at Dentons Bucharest office. When we talk about the integration of

talent even more, especially for roles where remote work fits like a glove. “In March alone,

refugees into the labour market, it is important

the number of job offers on BestJobs reached

to look at our economy and society as a whole,

the 40,000 threshold, with most of them being

but also at the EU response to this situation.

in Sales, IT, Finance & Accounting, Manage-

“Today we are facing one of the biggest global

ment, and Engineering. We are also seeing

displacement crises, so it is not about a single

an increase in candidate activity, but there is

industry being ready to absorb Ukrainian

still a major gap between supply and demand

workforce. It’s about a stable climate and a bet-

in this field,” says Andrei Frunza, the CEO of

ter future that involves all of us,” says Andreea


Voinea, HR Director at BCR. She adds that compared to its European peers, Romania has

The most recent data shows that almost 80,000 Ukrainian refugees have chosen to stay in Romania, out of

little experience with large-scale immigration. In addition, the situ-

more than 600,000 who have travelled through our country, and

ation is quite similar in the region, as Eastern European countries

Romanian officials have announced that more than 1,770 Ukrainian

are embracing the millions of Ukrainians fleeing war as potential

citizens have been employed on the local market since the war

workforce, and it will be difficult to handle such a huge inflow and

broke out. Most of them were hired in industries like hospitality,

integrate them all.

manufacturing, construction, retail or auto

“At the same time, we must not forget that

services. “We definitely cannot call the mili-

the labour market is changing, and the past

tary conflict an opportunity, but integrating

two years have brought a massive shift in the

Ukrainians into the local workforce is a chal-

way work is perceived. We are now facing the

lenge that we simply need to solve,” Frunza

so-called ‘uberization of work,’ and this can be

argues. He adds that BestJobs data show that

a plus in terms of the integration of Ukrainian

Sales, IT, Finance/Accounting, Management,

employees,” Voinea adds.

and Engineering remain the areas with the

On the other side, the Romanian Labour

largest labour shortage. In most of these indus-

Ministry announced last month that Romania’s

tries, jobs can be performed remotely by those

workforce was lacking in numbers, especially

who have the right skills and mindset and

in sectors such as construction, tourism, and

speak an international language. “Blue-collar

hospitality. Earlier this year, the government

positions are a good fit for international work-

issued a decision allowing 100,000 people

ers, as it is an area where having the hard skills required to perform

from abroad to work in Romania, to cover the labour shortage re-

a job is what matters most,” he adds.

corded last year. In addition, in a relatively short time, the Roma-

Once refugees started coming to Romania, BestJobs thought

nian government revised the legal norms and introduced a series of

about ways to help Ukrainian citizens find

derogations from the immigration legislation

either short-term or long-term employment,

to allow Ukrainians easier access to the Ro-

offering companies the option to highlight

manian labour market. Romania’s Emergency

openings that are also suitable for Ukraini-

Ordinance no. 20/2022 set out new support

ans. “At this point, there are almost 1,000 job

measures for Ukrainian citizens, which include

opportunities marked as Ukrainian-friendly

the right to stay in Romania for work purposes

by companies that are willing to hire Ukrai-

without being required to obtain a long-term

nian citizens and provide additional support

visa for local employment and free access to

for their integration process. 80 percent are

the Romanian unemployment system, under

white-collar jobs for specialists with different

the same conditions applicable to Romanian

skillsets and at least intermediate knowledge


of English.” But does Romania have the capacity to ab-

“In my opinion, we need close collaboration, and the Labour Ministry should con-

sorb Ukrainian workforce in the medium and long term? “It depends

tinue to exchange ideas with companies, HR professionals, and

on the sector. IT specialists might all be absorbed right away. Medi-

job-matching services to create a long-term plan and encourage the

cal professionals could also find it quite easy to find employment

adoption of Ukrainian workforce,” Voinea notes. Along the same

here. However, accountants, lawyers, and those whose training is

lines, Zizzi believes that given the fragility of the global economy Business Review | May 2022


and the uncertainty caused by the conflict in Ukraine, it is difficult

ing industry needs talented people who can create solid products

to say whether Romania could absorb all the Ukrainians who seek

and design clear processes. It needs people with both hard and

to remain on its territory. “In our experience, one of the biggest

soft skills, who can perfect the customer experience and focus on

barriers to absorption (particularly that of blue collar workers) is

understanding, supporting, and advising clients at a higher level.

their lack of Romanian or English language skills. That is why it is so

According to Voinea of BCR, Ukrainians have been part of the in-

important to offer language training as a way to integrate, and this is

ternational workforce for a long time now. “They are a highly skilled

something that the RDCC is carrying out together with its partners,”

workforce, and we must take into account the fact that Ukraine has

he says, adding that most Ukrainian refuges have been hired by

been one of Europe’s most popular locations for outsourcing tech

Romanian organisations in fields like call centres, support activi-

development, generating more than 20,000 tech degrees per year

ties, IT, marketing or tourism agencies, beauty salons, hospitality

according to the IT Ukraine Association. Moreover, 70 percent of

(baristas, waiters)¬—so in both white collar and blue collar positions.

Ukrainian workers have secondary or higher education degrees,” she says.


She points to the bank’s local project, Jobs for Ukraine, a recruit-

Over the past few years, digital transformation has received con-

ment platform developed by Jobful and InnovX-BCR to support

siderable attention in the banking sector, and the job structure in

Ukrainian citizens who are looking for a job in Romania. Voinea also

this industry is constantly evolving. But what remains unchanged is

adds that BCR has improved its operations, adjusting business flows

people’s contribution. Delivering a top-notch employee experience

to respond effectively to the needs of refugees, with the help of four

is a priority, and banks are aware of the required balance between

Ukrainian employees that it recently hired, offering them critical

technology and human engagement across all channels. The bank-

roles in some of its branches and its Contact Centre.

OPINION: Ramona Chiriac,

Head of the European Commission's Representation in Romania The perspective of Russian supplies to Europe being halted does not alter the EU’s energy transition agenda; on the contrary, it further underlines the importance of switching to renewable fuels that are not subject to the kind of geopolitical blackmail we are currently witnessing, nor vulnerable to the volatility of the gas market. The war has proven that the European Union has been too dependent on Russia for its energy needs. Our security lies in renewables and diversification of supply through LNG, biogas, and green hydrogen. Renewables give us the freedom to choose an energy source that is clean, cheap, reliable, and ours; an energy source that will create new jobs in Europe and fuel the green economy of the future. The REPowerEU plan presented by the Commission on March 8 sets out how the EU could replace Russian energy supplies with alternatives and speed up the rollout of renewables. To those who are fearful or doubtful, I say: we have options! For example, 20 million tonnes of hydrogen can replace 50 bcm of Russian gas. We estimate that by the end of this year, almost 25 percent of Europe's current electricity production could come from solar energy. And also by end of

this year, two thirds of the gas imported from Russia could be replaced. It is undoubtedly a very difficult exercise, but it can be done if there is enough political will to simply move faster towards what we had already decided to do. To cater for the coming winter, the Commission also aims for gas storage facilities in the EU to be filled to 90 percent capacity by October. In addition, the Commission is ready to support the joint procurement of gas and it has proposed several ways to help the most vulnerable customers and businesses. It has also issued additional guidance to Member States, confirming that it might consider regulating prices for end consumers in exceptional circumstances, and setting out ways in which Member States can redistribute revenue from high-energy sector profits and emissions trading to consumers. Business Review | May 2022


Exporting companies facing new barriers in 2022 The absence of business development teams, the scarcity of promotional strategies, and the effects of the war in Ukraine represent the latest challenges for Romanian companies looking to take their products and services across the country’s borders. The war in Ukraine is already putting pressure on Romanian companies’ ability to develop globally


By Claudiu Vrinceanu

etting access to a business develop-

the new Chief Revenue Officer at Romanian

looking to become CCIR¬ members—provided

ment team in a target market repre-

tech firm Bunnyshell, tells Business Review.

for in a parliamentary legislative initiative.

sents one of the most critical barriers

The ideal solution is to hire someone in

The Chamber of Commerce hopes that this

for Romanian firms when choosing to export,

the US who has experience working with

project will lead to better representation and

due to the rising HR costs.

Europeans, or even better, has country-

promotion of Romanian businesses abroad.

specific experience, recognising the fact that

Still, most of the local business environment

(whether tech or non-tech) have two ideal

each country has a distinct culture, Shani

is critical of the scheme.

options: recruiting a Head of Internationalisa-

Shoham notes. That person would be able to

tion (or Head of Exports) or a Chief Revenue

speak “American” with US-based prospects

putting pressure on Romanian companies’

Officer for each target market. The Head of

and partners while being aware of the culture

ability to develop globally. Economic pro-

Internationalisation should be a person who


tectionism will intensify, supply chains will

When going abroad, Romanian companies

is naturally curious, open-minded, adapt-

In terms of cost, the average Chief Rev-

Additionally, the war in Ukraine is already

be affected, and, for some entrepreneurs,

able when interacting with different business

enue Officer in the US makes USD 261,000,

specific markets in Ukraine and Russia have

cultures and personalities, and flexible. The

according to PayScale. The average bonus for

disappeared. For example, Indonesia, the

Chief Revenue Officer should manage all the

a Chief Revenue Officer is USD 81,000, rep-

world's largest producer of palm oil, has an-

go-to-market activities and customer-facing

resenting 31 percent of their salary, with 86

nounced that it intends to ban the export of

teams that are meant to drive revenue for the

percent of people in these roles reporting that

this product, the most widely used vegetable


they receive such compensation each year.

oil, to the extent that could further raise

One challenge for local firms lies in the

global food inflation.

fact that Europeans are not the best at selling,


especially to the US market. “Folks in the

Romanian entrepreneurs say that promot-

sia and Ukraine would have contributed to

Under normal circumstances, sales in Rus-

US learn how to sell at a young age, through

ing Romanian companies and their interests

the total business generated by a number of

things like lemonade stands and girl scout

abroad is very important and that the local

Romanian companies this year. An example is

cookies. To be successful in selling to the US

ecosystem currently lacks internationalisa-

manufacturer Ivatherm, which had estimated

market, you need to be short, concise, and

tion initiatives. Strategic partnerships with

that almost 10 percent of its would come from

assertive. Europeans are more laid back,

other companies are also crucial. Romania's

Ukraine and Russia. In this geopolitical con-

wordy, and patient. You can always hire those

Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIR)

text, due to the war and all the sanctions and

people, assuming you recognise the gap. Still,

has several bilateral agreements with foreign

restrictions the west has imposed on Russia,

if you're from Europe, most of your networks

countries. It is currently lobbying to intro-

such Romanian companies have had to turn

are likely to be in Europe too,” Shani Shoham,

duce a mandatory contribution for companies

their attention to other countries. Business Review | May 2022 2016


International good practices for national investment promotion agencies With the growing importance of foreign direct investments (FDI) in generating economic development and increasing exports, many countries have founded investment promotion agencies (IPAs) very useful in drawing, supporting, and facilitating investment. Romania is also attempting to re-establish an investment promotion agency of its own, as indicated by recent discussions at the government level. By Claudiu Vrinceanu to implement concrete actions, such as marketing materials, industry events, and developing relations with the international press to promote Romania as an attractive destination and understanding of the need for foreign investments. A third critical pillar is the existence of an investment generation division that provides information assistance by meeting with potential investors and dialoguing on the country's competitive advantages. The next step is to provide information on investment


Romanian entrepreneurs want the establishment of performance indicators (KPIs) for commercial attachés

opportunities and business partners, contact information for regional and local authorities, and information on investment procedures,

omania’s future investment promo-

tion among key stakeholders. The third area

company registration and legislation. The

tion agency should be the first entity

of focus would be improving investor-focused

agency should also generate contacts with

to interact with investors and serve

services based on the comprehensive inves-

potential clients and provide information for

as an intermediary between foreign investors

tor services framework (CISF) to cover every

potential investors through simple activities,

and the government. Ideally, the body must

stage of the investment lifecycle (attraction,

such as liaisons with foreign embassies and

play an essential role in site selection, incen-

entry and establishment, retention and ex-

business associations.

tives, data collection, bureaucratic certifica-

pansion, and linkages and spillovers).

An IPA’s fourth activity pillar could carried out outside the national territory, and here

tion, and company establishment procedures.


the opportunity would be to move economic

tion, the institutional framework for FDI, and investor services are the main pillars

Coordination should be a key pillar for the

Entrepreneurship. In this case, relations with

of an investment agency, according to the

promotion agency, with the aim of identifying

diplomatic and consular missions must be

World Association of Investment Promotion

barriers to investment by consulting investors

collaborative, not subordinate. For example,

Agencies (WAIPA). Given that the Romanian

to support efforts to reduce bureaucracy as

Romanian entrepreneurs want the establish-

agency will also include export strategy and

well as analyse investor views in determining

ment of performance indicators (KPIs) for

programmes, its main objectives will include

the most important obstacles. The agency will

commercial attachés. A simple method could

developing projects to stimulate the interna-

then present recommendations for specific

be creating an electronic platform that would

tionalisation of companies (outbound), and

policies and programmes to local and central

facilitate the evaluation of all the attachés.

not just inbound ventures. Firstly, corporate


Both companies that have completed the

Corporate planning and sector prioritisa-

planning refers to strategies for sector priori-

A second important pillar could be repre-

promotion offices within the Ministry of

internationalisation process as well as those

tisation for investment promotion. Secondly,

sented by a department that promotes easy

who have abandoned the process could par-

the institutional framework for FDI and ex-

access to the Romanian market for foreign

ticipate. This method would ensure a trans-

port strengthens the IPA's institutional frame-

investors and promotes Romanian firms’

parent and ongoing evaluation process. At the

work by improving governance, resources,

interests in foreign markets. This promotion

same time, it would allow “democratization”

tools, capacities, and institutional coordina-

division should also have financial resources

to make a bureaucratic system accountable. Business Review | May 2022


Key players in Romanian AgriTech and lessons from other countries The agribusiness sector in Romania has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential, which raises an opportunity for the local ecosystem to develop its AgriTech segment to overcome certain challenges and increase its supply of goods and services for global markets. 2022 is the year of the AgriTech boom at the global level, but in Romania the number of tech startups is still low in this field. The local ecosystem needs international partnerships to facilitate the transfer of new technologies

By Claudiu Vrinceanu


designed to help early-stage AgriTech com-


Romania could adopt some international

panies drive innovation in CEE's agriculture

Between 2018 and the end of 2021, 857

best practices to develop its AgriTech sector

sector. The programme uses mentoring

financing rounds in AgriTech and AgriFood

and boost the performance of its agricultural

sessions to diagnose the startups' gaps and

were completed in Europe, totalling USD 4.5

industry. The government could support

opportunities and then deploy appropriate


investors by launching programmes to

support mechanisms in training, business

finance and stimulate investment in Agri-

planning, and introduction to farming. The

the end of 2021 seemed to witness a return.

Tech, a Deloitte report notes. Romania aims

overall goal of this programme is to develop

Locally, investments in AgriTech amount

to become competitive in the regional and

the capacity of market-ready AgriTech start-

to only a few hundred thousand euros per

global agribusiness sector and an essential

ups and entrepreneurs in Central and Eastern

startup, and such financing is not very wide-

player in the AgriTech field. There are many

Europe. AgTech is an incubation programme


examples of initiatives to facilitate the transi-

that encourages and helps innovation in

tion to "global first" thinking and innovation

agriculture, and it also works with early-stage

Holde Agri Invest, a Romanian company that

that brings excellent added value, including

AgriTech startups across the country. The

exploits agricultural land, which has invested

government awards for AgriTech innovations

incubation phase occurred over a period of

in AgroCity and Enten Systems.

or hosting a dedicated annual conference to

three months and provided support to five of

attract global players to Romania. Moreover,

the ten startups that had participated in the

the local ecosystem needs international

previous stage.

partnerships to facilitate the transfer of new

After a stagnation of investments in 2020,

The most active investor is a strategic one,

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM OTHER COUNTRIES Romania’s AgriTech and FoodTech ecosystem

technologies from global markets and the de-


is in an early stage, both in terms of the num-

velopment of programmes to draw the next

Ten of the most active and experienced

ber of startups and of the existing support

generation of entrepreneurs into AgriTech.

Romanian AgriTech startups and scaleups

system, with a few local niche programmes,

are AgroCity, Enten Systems, Agricloud,

dedicated investment funds, and a growing


Agrobazar, StartAgro, Fermier Bun, CBN

interest in innovation.

Nextcelerator and AgTech are two pro-

AgroTech, Vetfast, Kolta, and Verdefood. One

grammes that have managed to open up the

of the most visible startups in this field is

laboration and the creation of a closer link

field of initiatives that support the develop-

AgroCity, a farm management platform that

between tech startups, agricultural associa-

ment of the local AgriTech ecosystem. Their

integrates modern technologies to help farm-

tions, and companies with solid experience

aim is to foster the potential of such startups

ers streamline operations. The platform digi-

in the field, as stated in an EIT Food report.

to generate sustainable revenue and connect

talizes and brings together all the processes

This would further support startups in under-

them with growth capital investment part-

of an agricultural farm (from plots, rental,

standing their customers' needs, testing their

ners to pursue their development plans.

and monitoring to planning and carrying out

products, and growing.

Nextcelerator is a new digital accelerator

production operations).

Accelerating the ecosystem requires col- Business Review | May 2022


From SAGA Festival to Sound of Bucharest: New concepts in the Romanian events industry Ramona Bratu, Marketing Director at ALDA Romania, the company behind the SAGA Festival, sat down with Business Review to talk about the upcoming second edition of the festival and offer an overview of ALDA’s other projects in Romania and all the backstage efforts involved in organising these events. By Mihai Cristea With the second edition of the SAGA Festival set for June 3-5, what are your thoughts about the experience of the first edition, its results, challenges, and the lessons you learned from it?

and enjoy the SAGA experience. There will be

is the best place to promote Bucharest, as

10 stages and over 150 local and international

it is an iconic place with a huge potential to

artists. From a musical perspective, this

attract visitors from abroad, now and in the

year brings something new, namely a great


The first edition of SAGA was a long waiting

platforms—renowned clubs such as Expirat,

game, due to the pandemic context. When we

Control, and many others. They will be pres-

finally got the approval to organise the event,

ent at the festival for their own audience and

everything happened super quickly and we

for all SAGA participants, coming from over

had to prepare all the festival communication

30 countries.

collaboration with Bucharest-born music

with the new date and location in just around 3 weeks. There were lots of challenges, but

Earlier this spring, ALDA organised WE ARE ONE, the biggest charity event in Romania, in support of Ukrainian refugees. How did you approach the marketing campaign and overall strategy behind this event? If you lack courage, you won’t be able to move or change anything, neither in life nor

amazing reactions from both the people who

After the second edition of SAGA, you will also organise the Sound of Bucharest event, Armin Van Buuren's biggest solo show in Europe, which will take place in Bucharest on September 24. What can you tell our readers about this project?

attended and those who saw everything in

Sound of Bucharest is an event that will take

and wait, I spoke to my marketing team and

the media and online, on social media, and

place every year, starting with September

the ALDA management team about what we

wanted to be part of the movement this year.

2022, and it will showcase a phenomenal

could do to get involved in the way we knew

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that

production, in line with the consistent qual-

best, by getting people together.

you can’t build anything great without trust.

ity of events created by ALDA throughout

fortunately they were accompanied by great outcomes: SAGA had great results in terms of awareness for a brand new festival. Over 40,000 happy festivalgoers per day and

in business. I am grateful for all that we have achieved, both in terms of funds raised as well as in terms of image. Things were stagnating for many reasons, then the war came on top of it all, and since I just don't like to sit

The reason was very important: raising

the years. It also brings together the world’s

money for the war-torn Ukrainian people.

The second edition is quickly approaching, so what can you tell us about the preparations, the concept, artists, venue, and any other aspects?

greatest DJs, such as Armin Van Buuren,

An important factor that helped the market-

who will come to Bucharest this year for

ing campaign was something that initially

an impressive solo show. This event will be

looked like a threat: time. Time pressed us to

broadcast live in over 100 countries, and we

move even faster and create a movement in

We are expecting over 50,000 people to come

strongly believe that the Palace of Parliament

Romania. Business Review | May 2022


Agista looking to boost presence of Romanian entrepreneurs on stock exchange With planned investments in 20 Romanian companies until 2023, Agista Investments is a newly launched closed growth fund that wants to see more entrepreneurial companies going public. Nicolae Kovacs, the CEO of Agista, spoke to BR about the stock exchange’s significant potential to attract some of the EUR 35 billion being kept by Romanians in bank deposits and provided insights into the planned launch of the new accelerator. By Ovidiu Posirca

More specifically, we are looking to acquire minority stakes, seeking to be an anchor investor and active partner to support growth by deploying capital, but also to provide know-how, reputation, and group synergies. We typically invest over a mid-long term of three to five years, and we take a board seat for strategic guidance. Agista aims to invest at any of the following stages: Pre-IPO, Private Placement, IPO, and listed equities.

What factors do you analyse when planning to invest in an emerging company? What type of fund is Agista and what is your portfolio strategy built on?

service, a proper growing market, and the

As a general modus operandi, we invest in

internal scaling capability to ensure that the

high-growth companies that seek capital to

Agista Investments is a closed growth invest-

capital we deploy will create the expected

ramp up expansion, either via M&A transac-

ment fund that aims to invest in high-growth

added value and boost the company’s value

tions or by boosting their production capabil-

private and public equities that operate in all

in the long term. The end goal is to get the

ities¬—most often both. The optimal size for

of Romania’s strategic sectors. We feel that

private companies in which we invest listed

these companies’ annual turnover is between

there is a financial intermediation short-

and, down the line, to have a high-growth

EUR 3 and 15 million. We seek to understand

age on the Romanian market, and we’re

stock portfolio listed on the Bucharest Stock

their product and market potential, but even

looking to invest in companies that have

Exchange (BVB), on both the main and AeRO

more importantly, we are looking to invest

three major qualities: a proven product or


in people and their vision and capability to Business Review | May 2022


deliver the agreed upon results. Our ticket

of uncertainty that have been floating around

corporate governance, acquire management

size per investment varies depending on the

for the last few months, whether we’re talk-

skills, and access the Impetum Group com-

company size and potential, ranging between

ing about inflation, the war in Ukraine or

munity where they can identify synergies

EUR 0.5 and 2.5 million. Our strategy is to ac-

other sector-specific issues. This is the reason

and try different management tools for a

celerate their growth plans either by acquir-

why we have seen fewer listings or private

fast and solid growth. After graduating the

ing a competitor or by expanding production

placements this year.

programme, the businesses will also qualify for a capital investment from Agista.

capabilities or product lines. We believe that the Romanian market is this process is generating robust players that

Is the domestic capital market becoming a competitive financing instrument for SMEs?

could champion the stock market in the long

If we look at the total local market capitalisa-

Which industries are in a good position to harness the capital market’s development potential?

term. We will list most of these companies on

tion versus GDP, we can see that it’s currently

We believe that the IT industry has great

the AeRO market to begin with, then move to

at 13 percent, which is very low compared to

potential to stand out thanks to the talented

the main market within two to three years.

29 percent in Poland, 35 percent in Austria,

pool of IT graduates and professionals, but

and over 55 percent in Germany, not to men-

also in the context of Romania’s digitalization

undergoing consolidation right now, and

What is Agista’s investment target? Do you plan to list the fund in the coming period?

tion the US, where it

The plan is to assess over 150 companies in

in 2020. We believe

2022, and we have already met with more

that this ratio points

than 60 this year. We expect to have invested

to an opportunity

in 20 companies by the end of 2023. This will

for SMEs to grow

include both listed and unlisted firms, but

through the capital

most of them will be private (pre-IPO).

market, where

accounted for 194.9 percent of its GDP

We intend attract more capital at the end

they can access the

of 2023 and we will seek to list Agista on the

capital they need to

BVB main market in 2024.

finance development. Combined with the fact that over EUR 33.5

needs. Apart from IT, we will also be seeking to invest in healthcare, waste management,

Will Agista remain local or do you plan to expand regionally in the coming years?

billion were sitting in banks as the popula-

energy, and agriculture, but this list is not

tion’s deposits at the end of February this


Our strategy is to invest in local SMEs that

year, mostly earning negative real interest

want to expand regionally, therefore to create

due to inflation, we think that more robust

robust regional players. We think that com-

listed companies can and will help attract

panies that don't manage to consolidate in

some of that money to the stock market in

the medium term will ultimately be acquired.

the future.

From our interactions with local entrepreneurs, we have determined that they want to

How can entrepreneurial companies remain competitive given the current economic picture which is marked by high inflation and growing interest rates? Depending on the industry, businesses will absorb some of the increased cost to avoid

but also for the know-how and synergies we

Are you planning to join the startup ecosystem either through acceleration programmes or direct investments?

can provide.

We intend to support the entire business

become more efficient, whether that means

ecosystem based on their specific needs and

to invest more in digitalization, cut spending

How open are Romanian entrepreneurs to listing their companies on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB)?

we believe that small companies deserve a

or seek alternative suppliers. Some entre-

fighting chance. Therefore, Agista and its

preneurs will have a hard time over the next

partners will start an acceleration programme

few years, and this will ultimately lead to

We think that entrepreneurs are beginning

dedicated to small businesses with a turnover

consolidation on the market.

to open up to the idea of listing because they

below EUR 3 million, to help create strong

have understood the benefits of the stock

players in the future.

partner up with us not only for the capital,

market, and this is especially true of those

Agista’s accelerator programme will be

losing customers. To remain competitive in the current circumstances, they must

As a country, I think the current circumstances have unwantedly delivered a great chance to invest in production capabili-

operating in highly competitive HR markets,

launched later this year and it will provide

ties that could make us less dependent on

such as IT.

small companies not only with capital, but

imports and turn us into exporters. Today,

Many entrepreneurs are wary of listing

also with vital know-how about growth,

we are actively importing inflation, either via

this year because they believe that valuations

resources to overcome HR and financial

energy or finished products, and this trend

are currently discounted due to the elements

structure challenges, and ways to build better

needs to shift for long term prosperity. Business Review | May 2022


Startups looking to shape local post-pandemic office market Offices in Romania have generated nearly half a billion euros in deals in each of the past few years, but startups are betting on a more flexible workplace and technology that puts landlords in control of their building data. By Ovidiu Posirca lease, and sell properties. Buildings can be fully managed using digital apps, enhancing the efficient consumption of resources. Nooka Space, a startup developing microoffices that can be leased for short periods using an app, believes that hybrid work arrangements will shape the future of the traditional officer sector. Sergiu Babasan, country manager at Nooka Space Romania, suggested that the local coworking spaces market is still underdeveloped. “There is high potential for growth in this segment, especially as hybrid working becomes the norm and companies look for the right solutions to meet the needs of today's employees. Moreover, the crowding of urban areas and the growing need for employee The adoption of flexible work has taken off in recent years


flexibility are conditions that create the right environment for the development and success of coworking services,” Babasan told BR. The startup aims to reach total investments

ropTech, the field that encompasses all

ever that digitalization and Environment,

innovation in real estate and construc-

Social and Governance (ESG) goals are key

of EUR 2 million by the end of this year and

tion, aims to improve efficiency and

to a successful, sustainable future,” Bogdan

to add more compact office spaces near resi-

facilitate all activities related to the property

Nicoara, CEO & Cofounder at Bright Spaces,

dential projects. In fact, housing developers

sector. Startups looking to tackle complex

told BR. The Romanian startup has digitalized

could add micro-offices in the mix of facilities

issues in real estate had already raised more

more than 464,515 sqm of commercial spaces

offered to residents in a bid to adapt to emerg-

than USD 12 billion between 2020 and 2021,

since its creation in 2019 and recently opened

ing work arrangements in a post-pandemic

according to the 2021 PropTech Annual

its first international office in London.


PropTech innovation can be broken into

The concept of the metaverse is also

the digitalization of the property ecosystem,

three main opportunity channels that cover

turning into a driving force in the way we

introducing new ways to design offices, sell

information, transactions, and building man-

approach work, according to Nicoara. In his

homes or boost energy efficiency in commer-


view, we will soon be able to mix remote and

Barometer. The pandemic has accelerated

cial buildings. “Even if the corporate innovation adoption

Technology allows everything to be digitally recorded and retrieved online, from pub-

office work in a more immersive way than ever before.

process tends to be long-lasting, I am happy

lic records to office lease data, including real

“Imagine being in Bucharest and taking

to say that developers are increasingly open

time heating system temperatures for every

part in a meeting in your company’s office in

to using innovative solutions proposed by

building. Furthermore, people have gotten

London, but not through what has already

startups. Two years after the pandemic start-

accustomed to using secure online platforms

become a traditional tool¬—Zoom—but

ed, real estate companies have it clearer than

to get mortgages, explore office floors for

through a virtual reality tool that transports Business Review | May 2022 2016


year in 2021, when it accounted for around 20 percent of global PropTech investment. It included EUR 3.8 billion worth of venture capital investment across more than 200 deals, which was up 350 percent compared to 2020, according to data from PitchBook. This means that the property startup market in Europe is growing faster than the one in North America, according to Miguel Nigorra, partner and co-head of the Europe team at Fifth Wall, a real estate-focused VC firm. “The European market is still in the very early stages of digitalization and tech adopBogdan Nicoara, Bright Spaces

Ciprian Pasca, PropTech Romania

tion, and the amount of deployed capital is likely to double in the coming two years. There will be multiple opportunities for

you to that office. And you will actually be able to whisper something to the colleague

of demand from tech companies. Companies in the IT&C sector had a share

investors who are focused on Europe, especially those looking to establish long-term

sitting next to you without everyone hearing

of 32 percent in Bucharest’s office leasing

relationships with startups,” Nigorra wrote in

what you are saying,” the Bright Space CEO

market in Q1 2022 and generated 93.6 percent

a piece published on


of new leasing transactions in regional cities

In the meantime, Bright Space’s team has been working both remotely and from the office. Nicoara says he is

European funds hold a leading share on

such as Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Timisoara, and

funding in early rounds. Investors on the

Sibiu, according to data from Fortim T.A.,

continent led 77 percent of seed fundings

a member of the BNP

building a flat organisation

in Europe’s PropTech market, 68 percent of early-stage fundings,

Paribas Real

driven by responsibility

and 49 percent of late-stage


and goals, not by stan-

fundings, according to


dard schedules.


Ciprian Pasca,

Romanian firm Bright

co-founder and

Spaces is also growing

president of Prop-

on the European market

Tech Romania, says

and planning to expand

that the high share of

its digital property show-

remote working during

office, residential, retail &

Firms in

entrepreneurs and property players to use all the tech available

casing platform across the


the pandemic pushed

the sector, which record over 10,000 annual

logistics segments. “This year, we’ll focus on Romania

in the quest to offer the user the best possible

hires, want the best offices with high-end

and on growing our UK portfolio, while also


amenities and sustainable certifications in

keeping an eye on markets such as Hungary,

order to attract the best talent.

Poland, Germany, and France,” Nicoara said.

“Fortunately, the trust, impact and popularity of startups is growing in Romania and

Despite the transition to remote or hybrid

Elsewhere, PropTech Romania is looking to

more partnerships are seeing the light of day,

work in some industries, Bucharest’s office

launch this Autumn Proptech Fusion Accel-

but the process is still far from running at full

stock could reach 3.5 million sqm next year

erator, the first corporate & startup open in-

speed - compared, say with UK, Germany or

from 3.27 million sqm at the end of Q1 2022.

novation program targeting the CEE markets.

France, not to mention the USA,” Pasca told

But the new supply could still prove insuf-


ficient for large companies looking to expand

people have tasted the benefits of remote

and relocate to new buildings, say repre-

work and no longer want to go back to

sentatives of real estate consultancy CBRE

the static, always in one place, work. We


discovered that working can be fun, that we


“I believe this area will evolve, because

can have the flexibility to travel more, spend

While healthcare and pharma companies

more time with our friends and families and

out 2021, when the health crisis was at its


peak, this year has seen a strong resurgence

The European PropTech market had a record

cluded Pasca.

were leasing offices at a rapid pace through-

be more in control of our schedule,” con- Business Review | May 2022


Gaming industry engulfing the world with new and exciting developments The global gaming industry was worth USD 10.5 billion in 2005. Just 15 years later, in 2015, its value had gone up to USD 155 billion, and it was no longer dominated by portable hardware and consoles; it had evolved to a multi-platform powerhouse. By 2025, analysts predict that the industry will be worth more than USD 260 billion. By Aurel Constantin

Streaming services and mobile gaming will become very important revenue sources


ideo games today are hosted on a va-

of such projects is almost guaranteed by the

a cloud gaming service that allows users to

riety of screens, with mobile gaming

fact that players are keen to watch films about

play streaming games at a very high quality.

growing every year. The industry is in

the games they love to play.

The platform is available through the Google

fact immense, larger than the film and music

There is no surprise that non-traditional

browser on any device. The goal of these companies is to allow

industries combined. And even if it doesn’t

gaming companies like Meta, Apple or Google

get as much attention as the other two, there

are looking for ways to get into the industry.

players to stream games without needing a

are more than two billion gamers across the

They are also looking for ways to make video

console or a computer. Eventually, purchas-

world—a quarter of the global population.

game streaming as easy as listening to songs

ing physical video games will become a rare

This is the reason why games are now be-

on Spotify or watching movies on Netflix.

occurrence. Subscription streaming is the way

ing turned into movies. Examples like The

In 2016, Meta started the development of a

gaming companies like Ubisoft and Electronic

Witcher or Warcraft (inspired by the World of

gaming development platform together with

Arts are making most of their revenues. It

Warcraft game) have proven that the success

Unity Technologies. Google launched Stadia,

is a model that allows game companies to Business Review | May 2022


have revenues throughout the year, which

green light by regulators or whether compa-

Gaming by Sensor Tower report, the industry

wouldn’t happen in the era of physical games,

nies will be forced to make certain changes,

had revenues of USD 21.2 billion in the first

which would mostly be bought during holiday

such as selling certain divisions to third party

quarter of the year, below the USD 22.6 billion



in Q1 2021. This was the first-ever year-on-



after it had reached record revenues in the

Tech giant Microsoft is one of the biggest

Other companies, like Mark Zuckerberg’s

first quarter of 2021.

players in the gaming industry. Its Xbox

Meta, are pushing for technological changes

console is still fighting Sony’s PlayStation for

in the gaming world. Virtual reality is here

2022 brought a 2.8 percent drop in revenues.

the lead on the global market. Revenues from

now, and many are trying to find better ways

And the problem is that the decline may

its gaming division reached USD 15.4 billion

to use it. Meta purchased Oculus VR in 2014

continue in the coming period, at least until

in 2021, almost 10 percent of the company’s

for USD 2 billion and it is now trying to use it

gaming companies find new products that

total revenues of USD 168 billion. But gaming

for the Metaverse and for video gaming. The

gamers can be convinced to buy.

revenue went up by 33 percent compared to

Oculus Quest 2 is Meta’s latest offering of the

2020, while the overall revenue was up by just


year decline for the mobile gaming industry,

18 percent. Most of the division’s revenues are coming

As the world moves to new experiences and the time spent on phones is increasing,

But even when compared to Q4 2021, Q1

It is interesting to see what paying gamers are using in terms of operating systems. Apple’s App Store is bringing around 61.3 percent of all income, while Google Play is

from sales of the Xbox console, which

responsible for the rest. During Q1 2022,

means that revenues and profits decline

mobile users spent USD 13 billion on

in quarters when new editions of Xbox

games on the App Store and USD 8.2 bil-

are not released. Microsoft is a very im-

lion on Google Play. Google Play experienced a larger drop

portant player on the gaming hardware

in revenues in the first quarter of this

market, but it relies on companies like Activision Blizzard for the actual games

year. In Q1 2021, its mobile gaming rev-

being played on its consoles.

enues reached USD 9.4 billion, while the App Store’s went up to USD 13.2 billion.

In January 2022, Microsoft announced that it would buy Activision Blizzard for

And while Google Play revenues dropped

USD 68.7 billion, a 45 percent premium

13 percent, the App Store’s fell by only

on the gaming company’s price after the

1.5 percent, highlighting the difference

announcement was made. It was a smart

between their users’ incomes. iOS, the

move for the tech giant: this way, it is

Apple operating system, is being used by

acquiring a content provider who is re-

25 percent of all smartphone users (1.25

sponsible for some of the biggest games

billion people). Meanwhile, Android, the

in the industry, such as Call of Duty,

operating system behind Google Play, is

World of Warcraft, and Diablo. Activision,

being used by 75 percent of users (around

a California-based company, is also a

3.75 billion people). Still, the gaming industry is making more money from iOS

leader in mobile gaming after the acquisition of King Digital Entertainment, the maker

streaming services and mobile gaming will

users. Google Play’s share in overall mobile

of Candy Crush, one of the biggest revenue

become very important revenue sources. And

gaming revenues was 41.6 percent in Q1 2021.

drivers in the mobile ecosystem.

gaming companies are looking for any way

During the past quarter, it had shrunk to 38.7

to boost their revenues right now. A good ex-


The acquisition provides a shortcut for Mi-

But the gaming industry is looking good

crosoft to improve its content credentials and

ample is the demand for vintage games that

access valuable intellectual property. Some of

has convinced companies like Nintendo to

overall, with more people playing games and

the content will probably become “exclusive”

re-release old games like the Nintendo Classic

creating demand for immersive entertain-

to the Xbox console. The move could bolster

Mini and Nintendo Switch.

ment. Users are also looking for easier ways to play games, without being tied to a computer

subscriptions for Game Pass, Microsoft’s gaming subscription service that allows players


or console. Mobile devices have allowed com-

to play games across platforms. Yet investors

The mobile gaming industry was positively

panies to attract more people by creating easy

are not too happy, since the acquisition may

impacted by the covid-19 pandemic, so it saw

and fun games like Candy Crush or simple

get a regulatory blowback stemming from the

high revenues in 2020 and 2021. As the world

puzzles like Sudoku. And even if some of

fact that both companies are leaders in their

started to return to normal, the industry

these games are free to play, gamers must still

respective industries. It remains to be seen

saw a 6.2 percent drop in revenues in the

watch some ads during gameplay, so they’re

whether the transaction will be given the

first quarter of 2022. According to the Mobile

paying for it one way or another. Business Review | May 2022


How influence has reshaped B2B marketing and employee advocacy Strategic social media is essential for driving B2B sales, according to Forbes, with 83 percent of executives that choose a vendor on their company’s behalf saying that they used social media in their decision-making, and 92 percent of that segment saying that social media had influenced a purchasing decision. In such situations, the quality of the content is what makes all the difference. By Romanita Oprea channels such as Instagram—which suggests that interesting things will be happening in this field in the coming years.” In turn, Octavian Ciprian Gheorghe, creative director & head of social media at gmp PR, believes that in B2B, an influencer who is relevant and potent in terms of delivery can really have an impact. The reputational transfer can be a big plus; he has seen influencers performing very well either as speakers, content creators or consultants, depending on the context. It’s a smart asset to have. As per employer branding and internal communication, he and his teams have seen some creators and celebrities getting some good and honest results. “We’ve promoted internal apps and various messages through them, we’ve collaborated with food influencers, artists, stand-up comedians, and the list goes on in terms of options for creating relevant content. We promote long-term collaborations


Ena Karabelas, Chapter 4 Romania

and keep a close eye on influencers’ activity. So, every time we meet up with them, we

ccording to Ena Karabelas, former

been the norm for B2C brands, it also holds

know the chemistry is there. We really believe

executive director at Chapter 4 Ro-

true for B2B now. And considering the fact

in understanding them and their worldview

mania, the advent of social media has

that a buyer’s journey is longer and more

and we try to get past preconceptions and

changed the types of content we consume,

complex in a B2B environment, building trust

see them for who they really are, as well as

as well as when and how we consume it. At

through believable, knowledgeable influenc-

respect their content. A state of presence in

the same time, it has also democratised ac-

ers becomes extremely relevant for bottom

every collaboration and honest communica-

cess to information and has allowed literally

line success,” Karabelas argued. Therefore,

tion are key,” said the gmp PR representative.

anyone to become a publisher or influencer.

she notes, “the challenge, on the local market

This means that, over the past few years, the

at least, is that the number of B2B influencers


effectiveness of traditional information and

is still very limited, and so there are equally

When it comes to building relationships

advertising channels has decreased. At the

limited opportunities for projects with viable

with influencers, Ena Karabelas thinks that

same time, consumers’ trust in their peers has

ROI. The glimmer of hope on the horizon,

while one-time campaigns can be effective

increased, and people are more likely to make

however, is that this situation is changing

in boosting brand awareness and product

decisions or commitments based on what

and that we are seeing more active voices

sales, if the aim is to build trust and advocacy,

they see happening inside their networks,

emerging, on traditional B2B platforms like

longer-term, always-on partnerships are the

across social media. “While this has largely

LinkedIn, but also on more B2C-oriented

way to go. And building such a relationship Business Review | May 2022 2016


requires time and dedication, just like it does

influencer for your brand: reach (how much

relevance of the idea to the campaign and

with any other type of stakeholder. Whether

overlap there is between your audience and

the affinity to the audience, said the gmp PR

you are working in an agency or on the client

their followers and how well-known they

representative. “We need the client to build

side, you need to keep relationships alive and

are across the industry and whether they are

relationships with influencers and focus on

constantly stay in touch with the influencers

engaging with their following and vice versa);

long-term relationships in order to get better

who are relevant for your area of expertise.

resonance (how much weight their opinion

prices and an authentic form of collaboration

“It’s great to share news of your company and

carries, whether people actually care about

each time. The pandemic brought a major ac-

keep them informed, answer any questions or

what they say, and whether they tend to

celeration to influencer marketing, as people

curiosities they might have, and just keep the

lead and shape industry conversations); and

increased their social media screen time and

conversation going even when there aren’t

relevance (how relevant the influencer’s areas

found that influencers were there to greet

any projects on the horizon (or no budgets

of expertise and interest are to the topics you

them with some comforting content. Even

available). Consumer and business influencer

want to discuss with your audience).

though the industry was already on the rise,

marketing have several similarities, but

For Ena Karabelas, there is only one

the pandemic determined clients to take new

there’s also one major distinction to note. B2C

answer, and it starts with the same letter:

steps towards digital and influencer market-

influencer marketing is primarily transac-

research. According to her, just like in B2C

ing campaigns. The budgets went up, the

tional, whereas B2B influencer marketing is

influencer marketing, the best way to identify

demand went up, and the ways in which we

primarily relationship-based. B2B influencers

the right partner for a project is to have in-

select the influencers has changed. We are

are more concerned with being viewed as

depth knowledge of the person’s interests,

now paying more and more attention to the

reputable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable

what their content looks like, who is part

budgets being invested,” Octavian Ciprian

an influencer with expertise in your niche

of their community. “The key ingredient to

Gheorghe added. B2B and technology content

market can talk with authority and make a

achieving extraordinary outreach is always

marketing enthusiast Ena Karabelas has a

more significant impact on their audience—

research. This ensures not just the right fit

slightly different view, as she says companies

your customers. And that’s precisely what

between the two parties joining forces, but it

are also experiencing reduced marketing bud-

you want; that’s the influencer you want to

also helps a brand stand out. Influencers put

gets, a phenomenon which is likely to con-

reach before your competitors do. “The kind

a lot of value on an interesting brief, so the

tinue. In addition to these market develop-

of influencer you should want for your brand

brand must do its homework before reaching

ments, marketing teams are under increased

is one whose opinion matters to their follow-

out. For marketers, this means that the out-

pressure to consistently deliver business

ing. They are experts in their field, and their

reach effort will be difficult and that there will

value and meaningful outcomes. As a result,

statements carry meaning, which is excellent

be no shortcuts. But hard work always pays

marketers must accomplish more with less.

for your brand. You should be confident that

off,” she added. Transparency is vital as the

“These turbulent times present a compel-

whoever you choose is reaching the exact

number of influencers continues to rise, Al-

ling opportunity to reimagine influencers in

people who are most likely to engage with

exander Frolov wrote for MarketingProfs. To

the B2B marketing mix and think creatively,

your brand and make a purchase. Influencer

identify the right match for your brand, you

strategically, and holistically. Companies can

marketing will work for B2B companies, but

must verify the authenticity and effectiveness

foster high-impact, scalable, and long-term

it all depends on credibility and relevance,

of any influencers you may be considering.

collaborations that benefit the enterprise,

not follower count (sometimes that data can

“Fortunately, technology allows for advanced

the influencer, and the customer by doing

be bought and presented artificially). While it

influencer discovery, audience insight, and

so. Influencer marketing is the top marketing

does play a role in your influencer selection,

quality checks. Before getting started, clearly

trend for this year, according to HubSpot's

a large following means nothing if only a few

map out your brand's values, personality,

2022 Marketing Industry Trends Report. In

are engaged,” Zenmedia specialists wrote.

audience, and campaign goals. The optimal

fact, 61 percent of consumers believe what

by a rising following than with earning a certain amount of money for a certain number of Instagram posts,” the B2B and technology content marketing enthusiast explained.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT INFLUENCERS How can specialists ensure that they choose the right influencers? According to Zenmedia,

Furthermore, just as you want experts

influencer should be able to educate your tar-

influencers say about a brand more than what

who know what they’re doing, you also want

get audience about your company and market

the brand says about itself. Influencer market-

to make sure your chosen partners are the

opportunity, while lending credibility as well

ing can help many B2B companies increase

best fit for you. There are three extremely

as building trust and brand awareness.” At

brand awareness, foster consumer trust, and

important aspects in choosing the right

the same time, it’s a clear mix between the

improve brand loyalty,” she concluded. Business Review | May 2022


Rebranding done right: a guide TEILOR, Gi Group, Solartium, Euler Hermes, Ciel Romania, Brick Romania, Decor Floor, DABO, Direct Marketing Group, Ograda Cu Legume, SPOR, Sanofi, Mindshare¬—these are just some of the companies that have announced a rebranding process, a new branding architecture or a new visual identity in Romania this year. BR is taking a closer look at what such a complex process involves, and particularly at the roles that strategy, creativity, and innovation play along the way. By Romanita Oprea merging strategy and innovation. And though there are always multiple solutions for a specific issue, a smart strategy will always make the difference by keeping the creative flow on the right path,” Dragu argued. Her teammate, VMLY&R creative director Alex Petrescu, added while keeping all that in mind, there is no rule of thumb for deciding when to rebrand. Yet, most of the time, it happens when it’s just a little bit too late. “Rebranding should be linked to being one step ahead of the game. Because doing it only to catch up with your competitors will more or less leave you stuck in the same place—or, even worse, make you invisible. Rebranding must be about added value and about the future. Brand facelifts can rarely be consid-


Alina Tudose, consultant

Alex Petrescu, VMLY&R

ered to be rebranding actions.” It’s like the logic of a race. From start to finish, you need

et’s start at the beginning. What is

added. When should rebranding happen, and

to tick all the boxes. And sometimes, you’ll

rebranding? According to brand and

when shouldn’t it? According to Bianca Dragu,

find yourself in need of something that hasn't

marketing consultant Alina Tudose,

senior art director at VMLY&R, a rebranding

been done before. “Without innovation, the

it may refer to changing or updating a brand

act is a long-term form of communication. It

car would be the same as it was in the early

strategy based on new market factors, new

is a public statement of future intentions such

days. Getting back to rebranding, strategy

product development or new business mod-

as “I’m expanding the business with innova-

means knowing how your brand interacts

els. It can also be related to changes in verbal

tive new services” or “I will be more focused

with the world, at least now and in the near

identity through a change of name, headline

on sustainability from now on.” When a core

future. Innovation is making sure those

or brand rhetoric, in visual identity, with an

business change happens, a rebranding is

interactions won't disappoint,” the creative

updated logo design or a completely new

needed to reflect that change so that the

director explained.

logo, or in communication styles, which can

audience can acknowledge & understand it.

involve adopting a new tone of voice, discov-

“When a business needs to reconnect with its

chief strategy officer at McCann Worldgroup

ering a new brand platform or using a new

audience, partners, and investors, it should

Romania and wine marketing doer at Cramele

communication concept. In short, rebranding

take rebranding into consideration. When the

Cotnari, believes that what’s most important

can take many shapes. It can represent a sum

image of a brand is no longer aligned with its

is to clarify the relationship between the con-

of strategy + name + logo + communication

values and not keeping up with the times,

cepts of rebranding and repositioning, as he

(this being the bravest and rarest approach

there should be a rebranding. Long story

has seen many marcomm people using them

of all, covering both internal and external

short: if a brand is relevant for its audience,

as synonyms in recent years. Rebranding has

communications) or a more limited mix of

for the business model, and for the time,

become quite popular, especially for brands

the above-mentioned elements, to which an

there is no need for rebranding. One can-

that want to shed a previously negative image

employer branding component may also be

not deliver a successful rebranding without

or those that are facing increased competitive

A strategist by training, Stefan Chiritescu, Business Review | May 2022


pressure. “Rebranding is simply changing the

what is going to catch people’s attention,

being relevant for the times,” said Bianca

brand’s identity. It typically includes chang-

in order for the companies and brands they

Dragu. Since rebranding and repositioning

ing most or all of its identity elements such

represent or work with to be among the first

are strategy-led processes in his view, Stefan

as name, logo, colours, font and tagline. The

to adopt new trends. “There are short-term

Chiritescu would avoid thinking about brands

identity change may also be accompanied by a

trends that are usually more important in

in the context of short-term trends. Brands

brand repositioning. Repositioning focuses on

communication than in rebranding due to the

are the most important assets of a businesses,

changing what customers associate with the

short interval of relevance and impact. Still,

therefore they need a long-term approach.

brand and sometimes with competing brands. This usually entails a change in the brand’s promise and personality,” Chiritescu said. And sometimes, the identity itself gets updated or refreshed to reinforce the change in the brand’s positioning. However, most brand repositioning projects do not result in completely changed identities. “That is, the brand name usually stays the same, and so do the other identity elements other than the tagline and perhaps a slight identity system update. So, to go back to the original question, the answer is: it depends on the brand’s objectives. The key difference lies in the complexity of the change that a particular business context requires.?”added Chiritescu. According to Chiritescu, in many cases,

“You cannot change your brand promise and

innovation is just a fancy marketing & PR

visual identity once a year without diluting its

concept, as real consumers expect brands to

relevance and memorability,” he noted.

deliver tangible value, not innovation. That

In his turn, Alex Petrescu thinks that

value could be translated in ease of use, a

trends can be seen as relevant from certain

tangible experience that enriches their life,

angles, but not from others—and that’s be-

a democratised offer for a luxury product or

cause rebranding means making your brand

service, and so on. “I would say that innova-

stand out, yet still making it feel organic,

tion should be a tool, not a goal for a brand.

natural. When this is done well, it often trans-

That’s why it should be part of the strategic

lates to setting a trend. Otherwise, you’ve just

thinking on brand management.”

copy-pasted something from the past. “The

In turn, Alina Tudose believes that strategy

most relevant trends in rebranding are mainly

equals innovation: you need to be innovative

about mimicking what somebody liked some-

to be different and relevant for your target

where else with fine strokes. Taking two steps

group. “But innovation can go even further:

back, we sometimes see tectonic shifts in re-

you must be innovative when you need to

branding—or we may call them mega trends.

create a new and ownable brand name or to

But that doesn't happen too often. Like the

be different in approaching visual territory.

minimalist design trend in the late 50s, which

Most importantly, a rebranding process also

changed the entire branding landscape.”

opens the door to innovation in a company’s

According to Alina Tudose, the trend with

products or services. It unlocks a new type of

the biggest impact in Romania is digitaliza-

opportunity, by changing what you think is

tion. “To be digitally savvy, brands need an

possible and making innovation easier to fit

updated strategy, short, playful names that

into your business. This is the most rewarding

end in .ro or .com and simplified, bold logos

thing for a brand consultant: to see branding

we’re living in perhaps the most innovation-

and visual territories. What I think will also

innovation transforming a business.”

driven time yet, and witnessing huge technol-

soon turn into a trend is employer branding

ogy-based life changes. And digital is here to

(again!): organisations must revitalise their


reinvent all aspects of our life. If we consider

employer branding strategies to account for

Specialists are always keeping an eye on the

this to be a long-term ‘trend’ then yes, it is

hybrid work, working from home or freelanc-

future, hoping that they will be able to predict

important in rebranding when it comes to

ing (in creative fields).” Business Review | May 2022


Gopo Awards 2022: Act of courage reveals years of behind-the-scenes abuse Ninety-six Romanian films, released either in cinemas, at national and international festivals or on VoD platforms in 2021, were in the race for nominations at this edition of the Gopo Awards, the event that celebrates the achievements of local cinema, which selected its award winners at the beginning of May. By Oana Vasiliu Photo: Miluta Flueras

Mariana Mihut and Victor Rebengiuc

Full house at Gopo Awards

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn,”

Barbarian” directed by Ruxandra Ghitescu,

ments in their history: a confession regarding

written and directed by Radu Jude

while Alexandru Potocean was nominated

sexual harassment made on stage by actress

and produced by Ada Solomon, was

for Best Supporting Actor for his role in

Viorica Voda. “I did years of therapy due to

named Best Film following a voting process

“Poppy Field” (directed by Eugen Jebeleanu),

the sexual harassment inside the system, not

attended by 650 professionals from the local

also awarded at this edition for Best Debut.

outside of it,” she said at the Gopo Awards

film world. Its protagonist, Katia Pascariu,

“Wild Romania,” the film directed by

ceremony held on May 3.

won the Award for Best Leading Actress.

Dan Dinu which explores the complexity

Viorica Voda’s powerful speech came on

Most of the trophies went to “Malmk-

of nature in our country, was nominated

the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the

rog,” who got the Best Direction Award for

for Best Documentary and won two more

release of the film “Filantropica” directed

filmmaker Cristi Puiu, Best Picture for Tudor

Gopo trophies in the categories Best Original

by Nae Caranfil, in which she played the

Vladimir Panduru, Best Makeup and Best

Music (Alexei Turcan) and Best Sound (Dan

role of Diana Dobrovicescu, a young blonde

Hairstyle for Dana Roseanu, Elena Tudor,

Stefan Rucareanu, Ioan Filip, and Matei

with whom the main character Ovidiu Gorea

and Manuela Tudor, Best Costumes for Oana


(played by Mircea Diaconu) falls in love.

Paunescu, and Best sets for Cristina Paula

In the short film categories, the awards

The actress spoke about sexism in the film

were handed out to “Love Stories on the

and theatre industry, which has affected her

Move” (Carina Gabriela Dasoveanu), nomi-

from the beginning of her career. She encour-

went to Bogdan Farcas, the protagonist of

nated for Best Fiction Short Film, and “Same

aged the younger generations to not remain

“Unidentified” (directed by Bogdan George

Dream” (Vlad Petri), awarded the Gopo

silent in such situations. The only person on

Apetri), a film that also got a Gopo trophy for

Trophy in the Best Documentary Short Film

the stage who applauded Voda’s speech was

Best Screenplay.


actress Katia Pascariu, who thanked Viorica

Ana Barbu. The award for Best Actor in a Leading Role

Ioana Flora received the Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Otto The

The “local Oscars” were also marked by one of the most sincere and powerful mo-

Voda for having the courage to talk about her experiences. Business Review | May 2022

36 DESIGN Business Review | May 2016


Romanian Design Week celebrates 10-year anniversary with special edition Romanian Design Week, the most important multidisciplinary festival in Romania, celebrates 10 years of existence, during which it has changed the face of local creative industries. Since the first RDW edition, The Institute has produced exhibitions totalling an area of over 15,000 square metres, having showcased over 1,400 design projects and an average of 150 designers and architecture or design studios every year. Still on up until May 22

By Oana Vasiliu


n the very beginning of the project, The

by solidarity, and what we are preparing this

objects from every major category: fashion,

Institute restored eight spaces in Bucha-

year will also serve as commentary on this

accessories, furniture or art.

rest and added them back into the urban

essential aspect for the times in which we are

RDW 2022 will also transform the outdoor

circuit: Stirbei Palace, Bucharest Chamber

living,” said Andrei Bortun, the CEO of The

space at Combinatul Fondului Plastic into

of Commerce Palace, Gabroveni Inn, Amzei


a micro-city of arts and design, which will

Square, Cobalcescu Garages, Telephones Pal-

This year’s edition of Romanian Design

offer visitors a daily programme of activities,

ace, Oscar Maugsch Palace, and Combinatul

Week will be based on the #FORWARD

interactive installations, music, and events,

Fondului Plastic have all hosted large design

concept, and the key destination in the pro-

as well as a dedicated food & drinks area, at

and architecture exhibitions that were open

gramme will be Combinatul Fondului Plastic.

the 29 Baiculesti Street location.

to the public during editions of Romanian

The theme of this year's edition was born

The programme of the 10-year anniver-

from the desire to investigate, test, and

sary edition of RDW will reflect the results

Over 400 related events have contributed

design scenarios for a future of creative com-

of the strategic partnerships established by

to the transformation of Bucharest year after

munities, innovation, inclusion, and sustain-

The Institute with the European Commission

year and have guided over 150,000 RDW visi-

ability through collaboration, to have more

Representation in Romania, the Romanian

tors on routes worthy of an European design

harmonious cities and communities.

Cultural Institute, the Order of Architects

Design Week.


These essential elements of this year's

in Bucharest, the Union of Plastic Artists,

theme will be brought to the public through

Combinatul Fondului Plastic, and the Baza

capital of Romanian design this year, and

a series of exhibitions and events that will be

Association. We open the city, NOD maker-

we want to further encourage the consump-

co-produced with some of the most relevant

space, Czech Center, the Hungarian Cultural

tion of products and services generated by

local creative-cultural organisations, laying

Institute, the French Institute or ARCEN will

creative disciplines. We are optimistic and

the foundation for a new beginning based on

all be present at the festival, alongside events

continue to believe in the potential, develop-

experiences, processes, and collaborations.

and projects signed by more than 50 other

“We’ll continue to make Bucharest the

ment, and capacity of Romanian design to

The 2022 festival will also mark the open-

creative-cultural organisations in Romania.

address topics that are relevant to the present

ing of the largest Romanian design concept

The event will take place between May

context such as sustainability, inclusion or

store in the country, which will spread over

13 and May 22, and tickets can be purchased

cooperation. We need the future to be marked

500 square metres and will contain design

online through the Eventbook network. Business Review | May 2022


New performing arts cultural centre to open in Cluj-Napoca in private urban reconversion project For the first time in Romania, a mixed-use urban reconversion project will include a cultural centre that will be open to the entire community, created in partnership with the Cluj Cultural Centre, which will host concerts, theatre and contemporary dance shows, workshops, and festivals. With a planned investment of more than half a billion euros, this will be Romania’s largest urban reconversion project so far. By Oana Vasiliu the COVID-19 pandemic” conducted for the Cluj Cultural Centre by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Data Science at the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. The second industrial heritage building set to undergo reconversion is the administrative facility, which will comprise both co-working facilities and pilot-venues designed to support and boost local creative talents and initiatives. “We wish to preserve the local identity for the Carbochim platform urban reconversion project, as we believe it carries social importance, while also giving the two reconverted industrial buildings a new meaning that Old becomes new


resonates with the public. Cluj is a deeply cultural and creative city, a component we will showcase in our new development by means

he concept venue for performing arts

by the Cluj Cultural Centre, with the partici-

of this partnership with the local cultural

will be a part of the project developed

pation of some of its member organisations

community. We are glad that the commu-

by IULIUS Company on the Carbo-

operating in the field of performing arts, and

nity confirms our vision, as cultural uses are

chim platform in Cluj-Napoca. One of the two

it will always be accessible for the community

among Cluj locals’ main expectations of the

industrial heritage buildings on the project

of artists in Cluj, who will be able to contrib-

new development, alongside green spaces,

site, namely then facility with arcades dating

ute to the development of its programme.

which will be another hallmark feature of our

back to the 1950s, will thus be preserved and

“As early as 2013, when local community spe-

projects,” said Iulian Dascalu, the owner of

introduced in the public circuit by taking on

cialists drafted the city’s Cultural Strategy, the

IULIUS Company.

cultural uses.

need to create a contemporary art centre was

IULIUS Company’s urban regeneration

defined as the sector’s main priority. We are

project for the Carbochim platform in Cluj-

the urban reconversion project developed by

glad that we are now able to kickstart the first

Napoca sets out to transform an industrial

IULIUS Company on the Carbochim platform

component of this project, which is dedicated

area into a living space, integrating it as a part

will also include a live performance audito-

to performing arts. Doing this in partnership

of the city. The factory will be relocated and

rium, the first of its kind to be integrated in

with the private sector is a first for Romania

upgraded, without any interruptions to its ac-

a real-estate project, an amphitheatre and

and we are all excited to be able to work side

tivity. The new project will feature the largest

venues for outdoor events, the latest movie

by side, bringing together resources and

retail area in Romania (115,000 square metres)

theatre concepts, as well as a diverse mix of

expertise from the worlds of culture and

with more than 400 stores, a cultural centre

leisure options and dozens of restaurants and

business into the same project,” said Stefan

for performing arts, the conservation of two

coffee shops featuring international themes.

Teisanu, manager of the Cluj Cultural Centre.

industrial heritage buildings and their reintro-

In addition to the performing arts centre,

The Carbochim facility will be transformed

The need to have more spaces dedicated

duction into the public circuit, the develop-

into a cultural centre set to accommodate per-

to art and culture was identified as one of the

ment of a model of integrated approach to

forming arts events: concerts, theatre, con-

most pressing priorities of the local cultural

green spaces by connecting the newly created

temporary dance, workshops, and festivals.

sector in the study titled “Work in culture:

urban garden spanning on 4-plus hectares

The newly created spaces will be managed

current models and changes generated by

with the adjacent parks, and many others. Business Review | May 2022


Cultural calendar

By Oana Vasiliu

by Matthew Abbott, Australia, for National Geographic/Panos Pictures; Long Term Project Award: Amazonian Dystopia by Lalo de Almeida, Brazil, for Folha Deadmau5, Fedde Le Grand,

de São Paulo/Panos Pictures;

R3HAB, Shouse, Alan Fitzpatrick

Multimedia Project Award: Blood

b2b Luigi Madonna, Artbat, Coe-

is a Seed by Isadora Romero,

us, James Hype, Joseph Capriati,


Oxia, and Reinier Zonneveld are among the DJs who will bring

One World Romania May 13-22, several locations

Art Safari Until August 7, Dacia Palace

tive rock and electronic music.

explosive shows to Bucharest at

Their latest record is “Looking

the beginning of this summer.

For Stars,” released in 2018.

With every edition, SAGA brings

Hooverphonic’s tracks have been

the coolest and freshest DJs on

featured on the soundtracks of

its stages and offers participants

many films and shows such as

lots of surprises both in terms of

CSI, La Femme Nikita, I Know

the production of the show and

What You Did Last Summer, Per-

its line-up. Romania’s first fes-

For this edition, the event will

manent Midnight, The Interview,

tival of 2022 will bring a unique

present exhibitions showcas-

The One World Festival returns

Stealing Beauty or Third Watch.

concept, an eclectic mix of artists

ing the work of Theodor Aman,

in 2022 with over 60 interna-

Ticket prices start from RON 109.

and EDM genres, and sounds that

Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali,

are sure to guarantee that festival

Reuven Rubin, Irina Dragomir,

goers will have great fun and

and Barbara Klemm. The cen-

want to dance till morning.

tral pavilion¬—Picasso, Dali &

tional long, medium, and short films, most of which are national premieres. This year, the screen-

Iron Maiden concert May 26, Romexpo

Falla – Le Tricorne—will present

ings will take place in two stages: physically, between May 13-22,

World Press Photo 2022 Until June 4, Universitatii Square

in Bucharest, at Cinema Elvire Popesco, ARCUB, Cinemateca

the work of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí created for Manuel de Falla’s ballet, Le Tricorne. Art Safari’s contemporary pavilion

Eforie, and other indoor or

will feature the Irina Dragomir.

outdoor locations in the city, then online, between May 23-31.

Legendary British band Iron

Red, yellow, and blue exhibition,

The main theme highlights the

Maiden will return to Romania to

while the guest pavilion will

interaction between man and the

promote its new album “Sen-

showcase the Who was Reuven

environment, whether natural or

jutsu,” which was released on

Rubin? exhibition, dedicated

built, and holistically addresses

September 3, 2021. German band

The World Press Photo Competi-

to the work of Romanian-born

the notion of “ecology,” from the

Lord Of The Lost will play in the

tion recognises quality photo-

Israeli artist Reuven Rubin (1893-

perspective of both the individu-

opening. The 2022 show will

journalism and rewards images

1974). The anniversary pavilion

al and the environment in which

also feature hits from the band’s

and stories from around the

will present the photography

we live.

entire career. Iron Maiden last

world. This year, out of 64,823

exhibition Barbara Klemm. Light

appeared on stage in Romania in

entries submitted by 4,066 pho-

and Dark. curated by Matthias

Hooverphonic concert May 24, Arenele Romane

2016, so it will be the first time

tographers from 130 countries,

Flügge, which features works by

when Romanian fans will be able

241 regional and 4 global winners

one of Germany’s most distin-

Hooverphonic comes from

to witness the famous Legacy

were selected: Photography

guished photographers. The

Belgium, and in over 20 years of

show and hear new songs live for

Award of the Year: Kamloops

exhibition dedicated to Theodor

activity the band has released 10

the first time.

Residential School by Amber

Aman, curated by Elena Olariu,

Bracken, Canada, for The New

aims to highlight the personal-

York Times; Article of the Year

ity of the artist who founded the

Award: Saving Forests with Fire

local School of Fine Arts.

albums and hits such as “Mad About You,” “Eden” or “2 Wicky,” combining trip hop with alterna-

SAGA Festival June 3-5, National Arena

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